Monthly Archives: Jun 2020

Sunflower Special edition, update 7…..

It’s been another mixed weather week for the Sunflower gang. We have had heavy rains, storms and glorious sunshine. Currently in Dartford it’s very windy but the sun is shining brightly. So what’s been happening this week?

Auntie Jeanie – well that touch of yellow we saw on Sally last week has progressed further. Look at her glorious bright sunny face. How pretty. Well done Jeanie, the second sunflower to bloom.

Jeanie’s, Sally sunflower.

Jan- Well would you look at that. From an early disaster to this beauty. This seems to be the only none chomped sunflower and boy is it looking great. Will we see it sparkle next week?

Jan’s sunflower.

Nanny Bev – Go Gerald! What have you been up to this week? Drinking Spinach? There must be a good 10 inch spurt on. So tall in fact Bev now couldn’t see the bud, so standing on tiptoes she managed to hold the camera up high and take its picture from above. Shock, another Sunflower nearly in full Bloom. Well done Gerald.

Go Gerald.
Gerald.

Sam and Craig- Well we didn’t think we would hear anything from these guys this week after their disaster last week but I have it on good authority that they have been in touch with a sunflower healer and will be able to update us in due course.

Jo and Ben- SUNY is still proudly showing his bright yellow face this week along with sneaking in another bud further down the stem. The sunny eight had to be supported again after their growth spurt and to protect them from the wind. The Buddets showcasing with the sunny eight are performing well and hope to Premier their new looks next week.

SUNY and the sunny eight.
Looks like it’s going to be twins.

Will there be a full show of Sunflowers next week? Will the sunflower healer manage miracles? Will Bev need to get her ladders out next week to look up to Gerald? Stay tuned 🌻🌻🌻🌻🌻🌻🌻🌻

Cherrygate…….

It’s cherry season. We love cherries here and as I mentioned previous I had bought quite a lot.

Thursday saw a couple of jars of delicious looking cherry jam. It was another easy recipe and didn’t take to long. Think I’m getting the hang of jam making.

Suzy enjoyed a great play time. We set of on one of our usual routes and met a chap along the way. He was heading to the closet field and said he meets up with a few others. Well Suzy was sooooo happy. Us humans made a socially distanced circle and all the doggies played and ran, really enjoying themselves and all got along. It was lovely to see.

Today was meant to be a gentle day but you do know me right??

I set about planting in the new roses next to the arch and moved a couple of plants to accommodate. It is quite windy, cooler and the odd spell of rain but that doesn’t stop me.

After lunch I decided to tackle the wild flower meadow. It has been said that it can take a good season to get going. A few new things are growing through but I’m impatient, so a few weeks ago I ordered some wild flower plug plants on my friends advice. I pulled out some of the regular long lawn grass to make space and planted in 40 wild flowers. Fingers crossed for them.

Before.
After.
Mummies little helper likes to sit right in front of where I would like to work.
Before.
After.

Friday evening I made a delicious recipe that I had seen on a few you tube chateau programmes lately, as I had plenty of cherries I thought I’d give it a go.

So easy to make and scrumptious when cooked. I’ll put the link to the Jamie Oliver version I made next.

https://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/fruit-recipes/cherry-clafoutis/

Stage one.
Stage two.
Cherry Clafoutis.

So there you have my odds and ends few days. The garden is looking stunning at the moment, let’s hope the wind and rain doesn’t damage it tonight x

Love the bright purple of the Verbena against the dark foliage of the dahlia.
Richs delphinium is looking wonderful.

Roses and plants….

A while ago I had seen a rose nursery near Leeds castle. So Miss Lexy was prepped and off I went to pick Bev up and poddle down there.

We had a lovely (very hot) time walking through all the roses. I’ve never seen so many and apparently the scent was heavenly. A rose was found for the arch and will be planted in a few days when it’s not quite so hot.

The reason for taking Miss Lexy out was also so that we could enjoy the sunny day and have a picnic. You can’t beat cups of tea and scones with home made jam and fresh cream outside.

On route home we stopped at the cherry farm. Needless to say there may be a cherry jam post in the next few days. 🙂

Once home I enjoyed a relaxing few hours in the shade and then the hot tub before spending time watering the garden. So tonight’s photos are of the new blooms springing into life.

One pink lily amongst the white.
Richs gorgeous Delphinium

Jammin……

A very early morning today. I was up and in the garden by 5.30 to give the patio furniture another coat. By the time I finished just after 7 the sun was above the house and very warm. So glad I started this early. Mind you, getting up early is tiring so I treated myself to breakfast back in bed.

Up again Suzy and I went for a short walk before it got to hot. I didn’t want to be out long but sometimes things happen. This morning we met a lady with her dog and we just got talking. I know I’ve had a tough few months but she has just had a diagnosis of cancer for a close family member. She spoke to me for a long time about it. understandable very upset, especially about all the not knowing as things are that bit tougher during this pandemic. All I could do was to reassure her and listen. I also pointed her in the direction of the specialist nurses and Macmillan as they really helped both Rich and I. But the main thing I wanted to share with her was Rich’s positivity. To take something positive from each day, keep your head held high and keep smiling. We parted after introducing ourselves fully and hopefully she felt a little comfort that she wasn’t alone.

So now to the fun part of the morning. After the strawberry jam success I thought I’d have a go at raspberry jam. When I looked at the fruit last night I realised there was to much to eat myself, so jars sterilised and fruit picked along with a few strawberries.

It’s really easy to make jam. It could be my new addiction 😂 Two and a bit jars of delicious jam. Apparently it will keep up to a year unopened, I can’t see it lasting that long.

Must now make some labels.

I promised myself some chill time doing sewing or reading this afternoon but I’m really not very good at slowing down. So I gave the table a third coat whilst in the shadow of the umbrella. It really is a scorcher today. I followed this no by rigging up a series of wires across the greenhouse roof as the cucumber plants have now reached the roof and need further support.

Very tall cucumbers.
The melon plants.
The peppers are catching up.
The first aubergine flower.
The cucamelons.
Aubergine plants.

The reward for this madness was a long relax in the hot tub with a soft gentle breeze. Wonderful.

The completed patio furniture.

Sunday, Sunshine and sanding……

So exciting. Sunday Ben and I had arranged to meet up with Jan and Lisa (Rich’s mum and sister) at Epsom downs for a socially distanced picnic. We spent a little time getting Miss Lexy ready for the day out, fridge on, water filled, Suzy treats packed and off we went. I think that is the quickest drive around part of the M25 I have ever done. Definitely not much traffic on the roads still. The parking area we had picked out had magnificent views for miles and the golf course had fenced off a small area for people to safely walk their dogs and have picnics. It was so great to see each other after all this time. We enjoyed a very pleasant few hours, nice food and cups of tea. It made such a change to be out. Can’t wait to use the van more in the future again, Although it’s not the same without Rich. I’m sure he would be smiling at our little adventure ❤️

Wow, it’s hotting up here. Because of that the latest project has been put on hold. I decided that it was more important to sand the garden furniture down and recoat it to protect it against the weather as it was looking a bit dry. Also it’s a year overdue.

Jono kindly offered to give me a hand for a few days this week. It’s much nicer doing these kind of jobs with someone to talk to. We braved the shed and found not one, not two but three sanders. Although we only had the sand paper for two. However before we started with this tedious task Jono helped me to retrieve the hot tub from storage. I had been persuaded that due to the gorgeous weather this week and to help my back it would be a good idea to get it out. Patio cleared, tub inflated, water started to fill and HOLD IT!! We have a problem. Despite how carefully Rich and I had put the tub away last year, we seemed to have a puncture. One spray bottle of washing up liquid and an hour and half later we found a tiny hole. Fortunately I knew where a repair patch was stored and what I thought was the glue. Jono covered the hole and we left it for an hour or so whilst we started sanding and popped to b&q. On our return Jono joked and said that it would be funny if the glue hadn’t set and guess what? It hadn’t. The writing on the tube was foreign and on googling it it turns out it was lubrication not glue. Doh! Another tube found and this time we were more hopeful. The following morning I could fill up the tub ready for Pimms o’clock later in the day.

Cleaning the inside and checking for the puncture.
So inviting.

Tuesday, hotter still. We managed to get a coat of Cuprinol on the furniture. It’s looking so much better already but it will need another coat. My plan is to get up early Wednesday morning and do another before it gets to hot.

Mummies little helper.
Looking better already.

The next part of the garden redevelopment was to put up gates half way down the garden. The idea is to stop Suzy running at full speed, especially in the winter and churning up the grass. It was something Rich, dad and I had discussed at great length. Recently a striking looking arch with gate popped up on my pc at a fair price. The only thing that was making this tricky is that the grass edging near the pond is sloped so we needed to dig some of that away to get the arch even. After much cursing we think we have it level. Now to see what Suzy does when she spots a cat on the shed.

Jono imprisoned.

So there we have another few busy days being productive. Some of the new blooms are looking gorgeous, especially the Lilies and Cosmos. The Cosmos have such delicate flowers with lemon centres and there is a new colour in the Lilies. A subtle difference in the hot pink by being tinged with pale white.

The two pink colour variations.
Cosmos lemonade.
Salvia Armistad with its velvety petals.
The Michaelmas daisies are out in bloom.
The cherry tomatoes are starting to turn red.
The raspberries are ripening at record breaking speed.
The ladybird crossing.
Jono’s new friend. It was rather large.

Whilst I sit here in the shade and update this blog, Suzy did go tearing down the garden to bark at not a lot. Sadly she went through the plants to get there. There is now a temporary guard until I can complete the job 😂

Cheers Rich x x

Sunflower Special edition, update 6…..

Fortunately nobody in the competition this week had hail or storms to contend with but there has been another disaster. Let’s find out what’s been happening……

Nanny Bev – A steady week this week in Gravesend but it does seem that Gerald has had another growth spurt. He obviously likes his position and now enjoys the sounds of a new garden water feature. Perhaps it’s the soothing sounds helping him to grow. No sign of any petals yet but I’m sure it won’t be long.

Gerald.
Geralds new water feature.

Jan – As we found out last week Lisa’s sunflower is now out of the competition. But Jan’s is catching up and looks a great contender. Lovely bushy leaves and it has also gained some height this week.

Jan’s Sunflower in Reading.

Auntie Jeanie – There has been some excitement this week at Auntie Jeanie’s house. Along with some healthier leaves there seems to be a touch of yellow on show. Will we see a complete flower next week? Let’s hope the sun doesn’t get to hot for it😎

Auntie Jeanie’s sunflower.

Jo and Ben – over in Dartford Sunny has continued to bloom. He often changes position to face different directions in the garden. Perhaps he is keeping an eye on the SUNY eight. They are also doing well with two more in bud this week. Altough the ladybird seems to be under attack from the local ant club. It was fascinating to watch the ant try and attack it from different directions but as it did the ladybird would tilt its defensive armour in the same direction to protect itself.

SUNY.
A budding sunny eight.
Lady bird under attack.

Sam and Craig – Over in Poole this week things haven’t been so good. Now Sam and Craig have the only plants planted in the ground. Is it that they prefer to have their roots contained in pots or do they object to the salty air? Who knows but whatever it is they are very sad Sunflowers. Although the sunflower impersonating banana trees that we met a few weeks ago seem to making up for the lack of growth done by the sunflowers.

So there we have it. Another fun week in the sunflower houses. Will we see not one but two plants with vibrant yellow petals next week or with Brian have moved to Kent? Bye for now 🌻🌻🌻

A lovely treat for a special friend…..

Ever since Rich was admitted to hospital back in March, I have had many fabulous friends supporting me. You all know who you are and I can’t thank you all enough. One though in particular messages me every morning to check I’m up and ok to face the day and has done every single day since 28th March without fail.

Two very excited happy ladies.

We have all had a tough few months and find certain things extremely difficult. I know Sam is missing hugging her friends as am I.

I wanted to say a little thank you to her and make her birthday as special as it can be in this challenging time so together with Mark I arranged a surprise.

Sam was told that she would be going out to dinner on Friday evening and to dress up. She messaged me as usual in the morning to tell me that Mark had arranged a surprise. I could hear the delight in her voice, even by text. She really had no idea where she was going and I joked that perhaps she was going to Macdonalds as they were now open.

After walking Suzy I started making the birthday cake. My friend Cheryl had told me about it and sent me a photo of the one she made for her husband’s birthday. Sam and I are partial to a spot of Pimms and even had a Pimms canoe boat paddle/ picnic a few years ago.

Now if you have never tried a Pimms drizzle loaf cake, do it! Do it this weekend. It’s so easy and tastes fab-I-lous. Here is the link to the recipe.

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/uk/food/recipes/a576669/pimms-cake/

Once the cake was out of the oven cooling, I prepared the vegetables for roasting, wrote up the menu board and with Ben’s help put up what birthday banners we could find. Some said happy birthday boy and others said happy 40th birthday but hey. You have to make do in times like this.

Just before Sam, Mark and Ryan arrived, Ben and I got dressed up, well you would if going out to a posh restaurant, made up a jug of Pimms and waited for our guests.

The doorbell rang and there stood the guys with a surprised Sam. Mark had told her that they had to call in to collect something. The surprise worked.

We enjoyed our evening very much, had a good look at what was growing in the garden and remembered some of our past adventures with everyone including Rich who was greatly missed during our evening.

The restaurant served Turkey with roast vegetables and home grown strawberries and raspberries with meringue and ice cream for desert. Of course you can’t have a birthday without cake and candles. The candles were snuffed out to remain hygienic.

I’m so looking forward to be able to see all of my friends again and thank them in appropriate ways for all the help and support they have offered. I was so pleased on this occasion to make someone’s day.

Pimms and Lemonade drizzle cake.

The Venus fly trap has also been busy in the last few days. I noticed quite a few dead flies caught within its jaws.

The garden has had quite a lot of visitors over the last few days. Sadly I havn’t been able to catch them all in pictures. But here are a few.

During the extreme heat next week it will be interesting to see what other little visitors we have.

I would just like to finish tonight talking about Father’s Day.

It will be very hard this year and for many years to come to not be able to give my dad a hug and wish him happy Father’s Day. Also to try and think what do you buy the man that has everything he could possible need. Are all dads as difficult to buy for? But dad is back home with us at the moment and I just want to let him know that he really was a fantastic, role model, funny man and superb grandad. Ben and I often talk about him on our walks with Suzy or whilst we eat dinner. We miss him and his funny ways so much. But I will continue to remember him by doing all these little projects. Putting into practice what skills he showed me all these years. That is the best way I think I can thank him and make him proud and hope that somewhere he is watching back saying how proud he is of us for carrying on. That’s and “no you don’t use it like that” and “it’s in the shed, somewhere” so please don’t message us on Father’s Day with sad messages. Go out and do as Rich would, something positive, make something or redesign something else. Be brave enough to tackle something that you’ve been putting of thinking you don’t know how to do it. Smile and talk about your adventures, and if you can give that person next to you a huge hug from us x x

Yes, another garden project……

You may remember a few weeks ago we made a wooden planter out of pallets for the Lilys. whilst sitting in the garden a few days later with Bev she asked why hadn’t I made one for the other Lilys? Good question, why hadn’t I?

So the next project was born. Measurements taken and this time wood purchased as the taking apart of the pallet was so time consuming (however have since found out an easier, quicker method)

Jono came to help me again. I had seen a slightly different design that had built in legs which was a great idea.

First all the sides were cut along with the leg supports.

Then came the fun bit of trying to attach the first leg. Dad would have straight away said oh you do it like this but we worked it out in the end.

We must be getting quicker at this. Mind you it helps to know where the tools are that you need 😉

A great end result. Nice and sturdy and compliments the other planter perfectly.

A good match.

The Lilys are looking beautiful. I’m so please Rich chose them. Every time I look at them I smile with happy memories x x ❤️❤️ Thank you Mr Hurcombe. X X

Rhubarb cordial and the new garden visitors.

Monday morning and a new list of jobs for the week. First up was to finish making the rhubarb cordial. The rhubarb had steadily drained through the sieve overnight and I was greeted with a thick syrup. To this I added sugar and heated until dissolved. The end result looks lovely in colour and tastes great. Not as sweet as the elderflower but still nice. The rhubarb itself I have frozen to use in a crumble at a later date.

For the last week or so our garden has been visited by a family of Goldfinch. I’ve never seen them in our garden before. They first attracted my attention as their bird song is different to our other visitors. One of them flits in and out of the orange blossom whilst one other waits in the taller tree as if on guard. They continue to chat to eat other whilst they collect the bugs and fine twigs from the trees. I have seen five of them flying in a group. This encouraged me to get my proper camera out as I could zoom in better from a distance without disturbing them. Although as I write this now sitting on my new bench by the pond a couple of them are singing away in the tree behind me.

This afternoon saw a trip out to take Ben to the orthodontist. His brace broke at the beginning of lockdown so he was one of the first to receive an appointment once they reopened. I had to wait in the car as they have strict guidelines. Ben had his temperature taken when he arrived and asked the now normal questions about people in your household. He had to wear a mask in the reception which was kindly made by a friend for him. Braces fixed now for a few days of sore teeth and very soft dinners. Sadly the lockdown has put the work the brace is doing back a few months as it hasn’t had any tension on it since.

That’s about it for today. Relaxing evening in my pj’s sitting in the garden watching the fish. So here are some more photos of the garden to share with you. Night. X

What colour will this one be?
The new Malvern hills rose in memory of my dad x.
What a gorgeous dahlia.
The purple obilisk provide a great hit of colour during the winter and provides a structure for the Mallow during the summer.
Every time I look at this Verbena Bonasaris I am reminded of Guernsey.

Slowly filling the garden with various lavenders. Rich and I loved them, dad not so much. Sorry dad. X x

Beautiful Sunday.

After the previous nights storms had cleared and the ice had melted. The sun shined brightly once again.

Saturday evenings hail storm.

Sadly it had done some damage in the garden. The lettuce have been destroyed, the Begonia leaves shredded in places but on the bright side the grass is growing rapidly in front of our eyes and once again turning a lush green.

Matt and I had planned a gentle geocaching walk for Sunday and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect. We met in New Ash green and with Suzy we set off on our three mile wander. It’s the most I’ve managed to walk for quite a while as I have somehow injured my lower back a few months ago, but I’m now receiving treatment as the lockdown rules are slowly lifting. Some of the sights on route were beautiful. New blooms and lush green meadows.

Suzy made friends with a grazing horse.

Matt and I had chatted about the elderflower cordial on route. We discovered a beautiful elderflower tree in the woods so with the handy carrier bag we foraged so that Matt could make his own batch of elderflower cordial.

18 caches later and a mini tree climb, Matt not myself! It was time to head home. I didn’t realise how much I’d missed walking and caching so hopefully now I can slowly build the distance back up.

Before I had set out this morning and had done my usual check of the garden and I am so pleased to share with you that today the first lily flower that Rich bought for valentines as bulbs, has opened. A little in the morning but when I returned from the walk the most gorgeous vanilla coloured trumpet like flower was in full bloom. Stunning. It’s breaks my heart though that Rich isn’t here to see them but he is in my thoughts constantly and helped by the little things like this. He was so thoughtful to purchase bulbs rather than a bunch of flowers to give us joy in months to come. The joy is much needed at this moment.

First thing in the morning.

Also in the greenhouse the first of the cucamelons is flowering with it’s tiny fruit waiting to burst into action. Very exciting and I can’t wait to try these.

I love how the cucumbers in the greenhouse have these fascinating tendrils to hold on to their stick.

As the elderflower cordial was such a success I’d decided to make a batch of rhubarb cordial. I picked a large amount and softened them. They are now being left over night to extract all the juice ready for the next stage tomorrow.

So there we have a relaxing Sunday. One happy, sleepy Suzy from her stroll and I enjoyed some sewing time in the garden listening to the gentle sounds of the water feature.

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